When Media Attacks!

Posted on June 19, 2012


When Media Attacks!

There has been a debate for many years on whether or not violence in the media causes aggression in children. Many people are exposed to violence every day; whether it is on television or in video games. This issue, along with many others, has an impact on society today. As years go by violence in media increases, can anything be done at this point? What can we do as a society to limit violence that is being displayed and limit children’s availability to violence?

Media violence has an affect on the brain. Researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine have been studying the effects on media violence. It has been proven that one week of playing video games alters brain activity. The study shows a direct relationship between playing violent video games and exhibiting less activity in frontal brain regions associated with emotional control and cognitive function. “Our study indicates that playing a certain type of violent video game may have different short-term effects on brain function than playing an exciting but nonviolent game,” said Vincent P. Mathews, M.D., professor of radiology at the IU School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study. Other studies have shown how exposure to media affects the brain. WebMD health news says that “researchers found nonaggressive children who had been exposed to high levels of media violence had similar patterns of activity in an area of the brain linked to self-control and attention as aggressive children who had been diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorder.” More research has been done regarding this connection. In a study, researchers measured activity in the frontal cortex of the brain in two groups of 14 boys and 5 girls while they performed a task requiring concentration. The results showed that all of the aggressive children had reduced activity in their frontal cortex while completing the task, regardless of their levels of media violence exposure. Researchers also found, however, that nonaggressive children who had high levels of media violence exposure also displayed a similar pattern of low activity in the frontal cortex. Children in this group who weren’t exposed to high levels of media violence had more frontal cortex activity. “We found high rates of exposure to violent television and video games in teens but we are just beginning to explore the possible implications of this exposure for brain and behavioral development,” says researcher Kronenberger, PhD, of Indiana University, in the release. “There are myriad articles showing that exposure to violent TV, especially, causes individuals to be more aggressive. We are studying the neurological and self-control processes that underlie the aggressive behavior.”

Parents play a major role in helping in the reduction of youth being exposed to media violence. Parents can get involved by watching television with their children and by talking to them about what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. One approach is talking to your child about how to solve problems instead of using violence as the answer. Parents can also help by limiting the time their child watches television because the more time a child watches violence on the media, the greater the influence and impact it will have on that child’s life. Parents can play a major role of protecting their children from media violence but the media makes this very hard. The CMPA (the Center of Media and Public Affairs) found that violence appears on all major television networks and cable stations, making it impossible for channel surfers to avoid the violence. Therefore busy parents can help minimize what their child watches, but it just doesn’t do enough to solve the problem. Why do media make this issue hard?
Violence in the media has been around for many years. The question everyone may be concern about is why is that? Looking at media violence through the eyes of corporations and through a business prospective that produce them, you’ll find out that action sells well. Movies that contain violence get higher viewers and ratings which mean more money. Action movies don’t require well written, complex plots or characters either, but they rely on violence like killings, fights and special affects to grab their audiences’ attention. “And, unlike comedy or drama—which depend on good stories, sharp humour, and credible characters, all of which are often culture-specific—action films require little in the way of good writing and acting.” In other words violence in media is a good and easy moneymaker.
People have their own view of media violence. Some more research has been done and according to William Triplett, the reason for kids to act violently is because of the lack of social skills. Richard Tremblay, who is about to present his preliminary findings to Britain’s academy of sciences in London, believes violence is based on internal factors instead of external. For example he says that “damaged genes can prevent a child from learning skills for self-expression, reducing his ability to interact socially, and thus make him prone to violence.” He told the website, “clearly youth were violent before television appeared.” These factors may be real, but we can not base our assumptions based on internal factors and exclude the external factors because there are as important. Years of research has established a proven link between media violence and aggression in the youth. At an early age, children learn aggression through the media. Children also imitate behaviours they see. The “Bobo Doll” experiment was done by Albert Bandura in 1961 to try and add credence to his belief that all human behavior was learned, through social imitation and copying, rather than inherited through genetic factors. Bandura stated, “It is not certain that children learn socially, but it is likely that children observing an adult model utilizing violence are more likely to believe that this type of behavior is normal. They may, therefore, be more likely to use this type of action themselves when confronted by similar situations.” His experiment showed that children were most likely to be violent when seeing an adult figure being violent. When children see violent acts in the media, they are most likely to imitate that behavior and become violent.
Violent acts have been going on in the media for many years and everyone is aware of this. We have learned that violence in media sells in our society, for the most part, and that most people and children prefer watching action and violent movies than any other genre of television. This makes it very hard to convince children and teens not to watch these violent shows but it is not impossible. Parents play a major role and can help by limiting their child’s exposure to media. Corporations can also help by reducing the amount of violent exposure, if they realize how much it affects the youth in developing physically and also mentally. Media violence may not go away any time soon, but we, as society, can do our best to overcome the harmful effects it has on our lives today.


Violence in the Media
• Huston and colleagues have estimated that the average 18-year-old will have viewed 200,000 acts of violence on television (Huston, A.C., Donnerstein, E., Fairchild, H. et al. Big World, Small Screen: The Role of Television in American Society. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1992.)
• 41% percent of American households have three or more televisions (Nielsen Media Research, 2000).
• 56% of children ages 8-16 have a television in their rooms (Annenberg Public Policy Center, 2000. Media in the Home 2000)
• Percentage of television-time children ages 2-7 spend watching alone and unsupervised: 81 (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1999. “Kids and Media @ the New Millennium.”)
• Television alone is responsible for 10% of youth violence. (Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Report, 1999.)
• Average time per week that the American child ages 2-17 spends watching television: 19 hours, 40 minutes (Nielsen Media Research, 2000)
• Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70 (Tashman, Billy. “Sorry Ernie, TV Isn’t Teaching.” New York Times. Nov 12, 1994.)
• Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 (Barber, Benjamin. Harper’s. Nov 1993: 41)
• Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1,023 (Nielsen Media Research, 2000)
“Statistics (Violence in the Media ) – National Center for Children Exposed to Violence NCCEV.” The National Center For Children Exposed to Violence – Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2012.
“Media Violence May Affect Children’s Minds.” WebMD – Better information. Better health.. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2012.

“Violence in Media Entertainment.” Media Awareness Network | Réseau éducation médias. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2012.
“One week playing violent video games alters brain activity | Health Tech – CNET News.” Technology News – CNET News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2012.
“Bobo Doll Experiment | Experiment-Resources.com | A website about the Scientific Method, Research and Experiments.” Experiment-Resources.com | A website about the Scientific Method, Research and Experiments |. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2012.

By: Shenica Van

Posted in: Shenica V